Refrigerator Compressor Will Not Turn On – Lights And Fans Work


Question: The compressor on my refrigerator will not turn on no matter what I try. Everything else is working but the compressor. The compressor fan and evaporator fan turn normally when I plug the fridge in. The lights inside the fridge work too. After I plug in the refrigerator there is a click I hear from the motherboard. The motherboard on my refrigerator is located at the back of my fridge behind a small metal plate behind the freezer section. There is no click, hum, or movement from the compressor at all. Is the compressor bad or is it the main control board? Can I just replace the motherboard? How do I know if the compressor is bad?

Refrigerator Compressor Will Not Turn On - Lights And Fans WorkRefrigerator Compressor Will Not Turn On – Fridge And Freezer Warm

Answer: If everything else on the fridge is working….. A small relay on the motherboard (main control board) may not be sending the compressor voltage. Check the voltage that GOES TO the compressor. The condenser fan that is next to the compressor comes on at the same exact time as the compressor. If the condenser fan is running, the compressor should be on also.

Use extreme caution here… Check the wire harness for voltage to the compressor while the fan is running. If your meter does not read 120V AC, then the compressor is not getting power from the board. If you aren’t getting the 120V AC to the compressor then most likely the refrigerator main control board is bad. Remove and replace the main control board.

Refrigerator Control BoardRefrigerator Control Board

A bad or burned relay on a refrigerator control board for the compressor is a common failure. The board is easy to replace.

1. Unplug fridge
2. Unscrew back panel where board is located
3. Remove old board with wires attached
4. Pull off wires and connect to new board (one at a time)
5. Secure the new board to the fridge with the screws from the old board
6. Secure back panel
7. Plug fridge in and hope for the best

Refrigerator CompressorRefrigerator Compressor

If you are getting 120V AC to the compressor but the compressor is NOT running when it should be, then the compressor probably has a short and needs replaced. Check the wiring the compressors wiring to be completely sure it is bad. If the compressor is bad, it makes more sense sometimes to just buy a new refrigerator. Check around online and see what your best option may be.

If you know of an easier way to check to find out if a refrigerator compressor is bad, please leave a comment below.

More "Do It Yourself" Tips, Tricks, Ideas, Repair:

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dennis August 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

I have a BEKO ZSA 436 freezer. A year ago it stopped working and I unplugged it. 2 days later I plugged it in again and it started and worked for the past year when it stopped again.

I now have noted that when freezer not working but plugged in over 24 hours or longer the compressor is very very hot. Unplugging, the compressor cools down over several hours and then re plugging the freezer it starts working but only for 6 or even 24 hours then stops again I suppose when the compressor overheats.

With these symptoms what is the problem – thanks for advice.


2 Martin March 6, 2017 at 6:47 am

I need to know how to wire a Westinghouse Refrigerator bj504t-r.
It is an Australian model that has the capacitor the overload relay and the start relay.


3 laura November 28, 2016 at 12:11 am

I have trio GE refrigerator model# Pfs22sisbss and the compressor is not kicking in i replaced the mother board on the back of the unit … and then i noticed i am not getting 120 volts on the main harness of the mother board where you can bypass line and compressor.. or line and defrost.. this unit has an electronic temperature control on the fresh food side.. Is the temperature control the one that supplies the power to the mother board? I heard a comment that i should check the freezer and fresh food thermistors does this have anything to do with the power to the compressor…


4 Vikki August 7, 2015 at 11:15 am

My Frigidaire 2014 started beeping in the middle of the night when the temperature had gone up. Freezer
door had been left slightly ajar, No Alarm?, now after unplugging to reset after 30 minutes will start beeping
again? There is frost in the back of the freezer.
I just reset it again…;-(

My last refrigerator lasted over 15 years…..I don’t think it was a Frigidaire…


5 DIY Project Help Tips August 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm

The fridge freezer was beginning to defrost since the door was left open. The frost at the back of the freezer may be preventing the evap fan from blowing the cold air around. Scrape off the frost in the back of freezer and move all frozen food away from the back of the freezer to the front of freezer. Then reset again and check in 24 hours. You should be okay.


6 Michel August 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm

My refrigerator has the exact problem mentioned above. When refrigerator is plugged in the circuit board clicks once, then everything but compressor is running. My refrigerator is the GE GTS22KCMBRCC. Thank you for any help in advance.


7 DIY Project Help Tips August 4, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Your GE fridge may need awhile before it will start running the compressor. How much time have you given it after plugging it in to see if the compressor begins to run?
If the compressor NEVER runs, and EVERYTHING else runs (lights, fans) then you may have a start cap or relay issue that is preventing the compressor from starting. OR, your control board may have a blown cap or burnt spot.


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